Protest turned to celebration on the streets of Nepal as people reacted to news that King Gyanendra has reinstated parliament. The announcement came after almost three weeks of demonstrations, some of which have ended in violence. At least 12 people have been killed in clashes with security forces.
The protesters were demanding the King return the country to democracy more than a year after he suspended a multi-party government amid efforts to crush a Maoist revolt. In last night’s address Gyanendra said the first new session of parliament would be held on Friday. He also extended his condolences to the families of those who died in the recent unrest.
Political parties have said they will call off the protests but there is still no guarantee of a return to stability in the Himalayan kingdom. The King’s statement made no explicit mention of elections to an assembly that would write a new constitution, which has been another key demand of the protesters.
It is not yet clear how the Maoist rebels, who control large swathes of the countryside, will react. They had entered a loose alliance last year with the parties in a joint effort to end the monarch’s control of the country. But analysts says the militants have been given assurances by diplomats that the reconstituted parliament would call assembly elections.